WTF: Ukraine Edition

Jul. 21st, 2017 11:09 pm
sabotabby: (coffee)
[personal profile] sabotabby
I feel like this needs to be a separate post from the OMG ODESSA IS SO PRETTY post. For one thing, these were taken on my shitty cell camera and not my iPad. But also they're pictures I've taken when I've seen something hella weird and immediately need to inform social media.

Let's just say there are some, uh, cultural differences between Ukraine and everywhere else I've ever been that take a bit of getting used to. FOR EXAMPLE:


What is this, some kinky sex thing? Maybe in that masochist bar that we didn't get into because your kink is okay but not my kink?


No! It is the café in the Lviv airport. Why do they have chairs like this? No one knows. But to answer a few questions:

1) Yes, we sat in them.
2) Yes, they are actually quite comfortable.
3) No, no one else seemed to think they were out of the ordinary in any way.

To answer a question no one asked:

1) Yes, the Americanos in that café are quite good, especially by airport standards, would totally recommend. Though, granted, it was like 5 am and I would have drank lighter fluid if it would have woken me up.



Our hotel in Lviv, while cute, had no elevator--a problem, since our room was on the 5th floor. (I may be an obsessive step-counter who never goes on an escalator when there's the option of a staircase, but at the end of the day when you've been walking/carrying bags? Less fun.) We were relieved to see that this hotel does have one. In fact, it has all of the regular floors you would expect to see in a building, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, and crab.

1) Yes, I know what's on the crab floor.
2) No, you'll have to wait and see until tomorrow if it's any good.

Massive Odessa photo dump

Jul. 21st, 2017 10:33 pm
sabotabby: (magicians)
[personal profile] sabotabby
Sorry-not-sorry, but you will be getting a load of pictures of Odessa because it is fucking magical. My intention at the moment is to retire, sell my house, buy one of the dilapidated old buildings and restore it to its former glory, learn Russian (it's another city where most people speak Russian, not Ukrainian, much to our joy), and wander around the glorious streets at night in a fashionable dress, drinking an open bottle of champagne.

Life goals, amirite?

In all seriousness, though, not for nothing is Odessa called Paris on the Black Sea. It has all the architectural splendour and literary tradition you could hope for, it is cosmopolitan and fashionable, and it is lit. I have never been to Paris, granted, but from what I understand Odessa is much cheaper and not as crowded. In Kiev and Lviv, people are pretty much the same as anywhere else, except with a penchant for wearing poorly translated English t-shirts bearing inspirational but nonsensical slogans, expressions of general hatred towards anyone viewing the shirt, or just vague weirdness (my favourite so far was a picture of a cat made out of ramen noodles sitting in a bowl with the caption "Pet Food").

Here, though, everyone looks like a model. The women are all tall and thin and wear flowing striped dresses, and the children prance around in tutus at all hours of the night. The streets are alive with music and performers and what I'm pretty sure is a unicorn (i.e., incentive to look at the pictures under the cut).

plz appreciate how much I had to narrow these down )

With apologies to Sergei Eisenstein

Jul. 21st, 2017 01:58 pm
sabotabby: (lolmarx)
[personal profile] sabotabby
We're in Odessa, about a 10 min walk from the !!!!!!!! Potemkin Steps.

Expect incoming photos for every day I'm here.

Srsly, I didn't even like Battleship Potemkin but I don't think a movie needs to be enjoyable to be arguably the most important movie ever made, with which we would not have our current cinematic vocabulary. I mean. I teach film. So naturally the first thing I had to do (well, after we had lunch and coffee because we were up at 4 am to catch the flight from Lviv) was brave the 30°C weather to bring you the following:





Don't mind me, I'll be over here geeking out hard/memorizing the angles in the scene so that I can do horrible imitations of them amongst all the tourists.

Pet Update

Jul. 20th, 2017 10:52 am
[personal profile] robby
 Cali is missing. She was getting old, but I will keep an eye out for her. It's possible that she's around, but relocated because of the orange cat, who can be a bully.

I'm letting the dogs go off leash every morning in the boonies. Dinah loves to hunt and really run. She weighs 60 lbs, but is sleek and slender and built for speed. She's difficult about coming back on leash, and I'm using all my dog training mojo to teach her to do that.
thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
Anyone who doesn't expect Trump facilities to NOT get hit more in coming years raise your hand. Bueller? Anyone? It's been documented that Trump's facilities have lousy IT practices and terrible WiFi security, but hotels are particularly problematic. American hotels seem to be stuck with using card swiping technology rather than ECV chip readers, which greatly increase security through strong encryption. Until they upgrade, we'll be seeing hotel breeches regularly.

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2017/07/trump-hotels-hit-by-3rd-card-breach-in-2-years/

Erinnerung

Jul. 20th, 2017 12:00 pm
matrixmann: (Default)
[personal profile] matrixmann
Originally posted by [personal profile] matrixmann at Erinnerung

Mythos vom Widerstand.
Graf von Stauffenberg.

Die drohende Niederlage auf allen Fronten und Verlust von persönlichen Privilegien führte zu dem Beschluss, dass die dilettantische Führung liquidiert werden muss.


Myth about resistance.
Graf von Stauffenberg.

The threat of defeat on all fronts and possible loss of personal privileges lead to the decision that the dilettantish acting leader must be liquidated.

Poem of the week

Jul. 20th, 2017 08:09 am
cmcmck: (Default)
[personal profile] cmcmck
 Sometimes a poem is just so bad that it is absolutely wonderful.

This is other half's favourite McGonagall poem :o)



The Funeral of the German Emperor

YE sons of Germany, your noble Emperor William now is dead.
Who oft great armies to battle hath led;
He was a man beloved by his subjects all,
Because he never tried them to enthral.

The people of Germany have cause now to mourn,
The loss of their hero, who to them will ne’er return;
But his soul I hope to Heaven has fled away,
To the realms of endless bliss for ever and aye.

He was much respected throughout Europe by the high and the low,
And all over Germany people’s hearts are full of woe;
For in the battlefield he was a hero bold,
Nevertheless, a lover of peace, to his credit be it told.

’Twas in the year of 1888, and on March the 16th day,
That the peaceful William’s remains were conveyed away
To the royal mausoleum of Charlottenburg, their last resting-place,
The God-fearing man that never did his country disgrace.

The funeral service was conducted in the cathedral by the court chaplain, Dr. Kogel,
Which touched the hearts of his hearers, as from his lips it fell,
And in conclusion he recited the Lord’s Prayer
In the presence of kings, princes, dukes, and counts assembled there.

And at the end of the service the infantry outside fired volley after volley,
While the people inside the cathedral felt melancholy,
As the sound of the musketry smote upon the ear,
In honour of the illustrous William. whom they loved most dear.

Then there was a solemn pause as the kings and princes took their places,
Whilst the hot tears are trickling down their faces,
And the mourners from shedding tears couldn’t refrain;
And in respect of the good man, above the gateway glared a bituminous flame.

Then the coffin was placed on the funeral car,
By the kings and princes that came from afar;
And the Crown Prince William heads the procession alone,
While behind him are the four heirs-apparent to the throne.

Then followed the three Kings of Saxony, and the King of the Belgians also,
Together with the Prince of Wales, with their hearts full of woe,
Besides the Prince of Naples and Prince Rudolph of Austria were there,
Also the Czarevitch, and other princes in their order I do declare.

And as the procession passes the palace the blinds are drawn completely,
And every house is half hidden with the sable drapery;
And along the line of march expansive arches were erected,
While the spectators standing by seemed very dejected.

And through the Central Avenue, to make the decorations complete,
There were pedestals erected, rising fourteen to fifteen feet,
And at the foot and top of each pedestal were hung decorations of green bay,
Also beautiful wreaths and evergreen festoons all in grand array.

And there were torches fastened on pieces of wood stuck in the ground;
And as the people gazed on the weird-like scene, their silence was profound;
And the shopkeepers closed their shops, and hotel-keepers closed in the doorways,
And with torchlight and gaslight, Berlin for once was all ablaze.

The authorities of Berlin in honour of the Emperor considered it no sin,
To decorate with crape the beautiful city of Berlin;
Therefore Berlin I declare was a city of crape,
Because few buildings crape decoration did escape.

First in the procession was the Emperor’s bodyguard,
And his great love for them nothing could it retard;
Then followed a squadron of the hussars with their band,
Playing “Jesus, Thou my Comfort,” most solemn and grand.

And to see the procession passing the sightseers tried their best,
Especially when the cavalry hove in sight, riding four abreast;
Men and officers with their swords drawn, a magnificent sight to see
In the dim sun’s rays, their burnished swords glinting dimly.

Then followed the footguards with slow and solemn tread,
Playing the “Dead March in Saul,” most appropriate for the dead;
And behind them followed the artillery, with four guns abreast,
Also the ministers and court officials dressed in their best.

The whole distance to the grave was covered over with laurel and bay,
So that the body should be borne along smoothly all the way;
And the thousands of banners in the procession were beautiful to view,
Because they were composed of cream-coloured silk and light blue.

There were thousands of thousands of men and women gathered there,
And standing ankle deep in snow, and seemingly didn’t care
So as they got a glimpse of the funeral car,
Especially the poor souls that came from afar.

And when the funeral car appeared there was a general hush,
And the spectators in their anxiety to see began to crush;
And when they saw the funeral car by the Emperor’s charger led,
Every hat and cap was lifted reverently from off each head.

And as the procession moved on to the royal mausoleum,
The spectators remained bareheaded and seemingly quite dumb;
And as the coffin was borne into its last resting-place,
Sorrow seemed depicted in each one’s face.

And after the burial service the mourners took a last farewell
Of the noble-hearted William they loved so well;
Then rich and poor dispersed quietly that were assembled there,
While two batteries of field-guns fired a salute which did rend the air
In honour of the immortal hero they loved so dear,
The founder of the Fatherland Germany, that he did revere.












thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
It only took a week and over $750.

I don't think my dishwasher has ever been so fully loaded.

As previously posted, I discovered the water heater was leaking last week Thursday and shut it down. Unfortunately I had to go to Las Cruces for a meeting and couldn't do anything else. Friday I got a recommendation from our gas utility for a local plumber. Left a message on his voicemail requesting his services and went down to Alamogordo and bought an appropriately-sized water heater, both in gallon capacity (30, kinda small) and physical dimensions. I would've liked a larger one, but I was kind of constrained in size by its cabinet. Called the plumber and left another message informing him that I had acquired the water heater.

Saturday: no call. Sunday we went to the observatory to shower in the dorms, the dogs were taken on a bicycle adventure and much fun was had. Sunday night I did some digging for another plumber. Found one with one very good Yelp review. Looking at their web site, they had a letter posted thanking them for their services. While I didn't find any other references regarding them online, I found LOTS of negative reviews for pretty much every other plumber in the area. So Monday morning I gave them a call. I should have called them Saturday: they're working seven days a week because of demand and couldn't get to us until today.

Well, the guy finished about two hours ago. The water heater heats 36 gallons an hour, so I gave it an hour and took a shower: sheer bliss. After getting out, got the dishwasher started. Still have lots of dishes that need my attention, but it's a beginning.

Now to get on Yelp and other review sites and leave a very glowing review for them, and a very negative review for the plumber who has still not yet returned my call.

Wednesday Book Meme

Jul. 19th, 2017 01:44 pm
wendelah1: Sally from Peanuts looking at a shelf of books (book geek)
[personal profile] wendelah1
Because of all of the kids' books and quickie romances I've been reading lately, I am nine books ahead on my Goodreads challenge. I'm going to have to up the ante by ten books, at least, to compensate.

What I've finished

All the President's Men (1974), Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. I began reading it because of (1.) this article in Newsweek: "The Eerie Similarities Between Alleged Trump Scandals and All The President's Men, and (2.) because we'd just watched the movie based on it. (Note that the Newsweek story was published back in March. Imagine if they'd written it this week.) The book is award-winning journalism but honestly, the movie makes for a better story. Go rent the movie. Download it. Whatever. (We checked it out of the library). You will not be sorry. The movie gets five stars. The book gets four stars. These reporters, their editors, and their publisher are all American heroes.

Beany and the Beckoning Road (1959), Lenore Mattingly Weber. Beany believes that she has lost boyfriend Norbett to another girl: Cynthia. She and Johnny plan to drive from Denver to California to return their nephew to his parents and advertise for passengers to share the travel expenses. What a surprise for Beany when she discovers that one of the passengers is Cynthia. What will happen to a mismatched set of passengers with very little money and a tomato plant in the back seat?

This was better than the previous book in the series. Beany flies off the handle one time too many for my taste but whatever. Three stars for retro-charm and that tomato plant. I haven't decided if I'm going to continue on with the Malone family, but this book was funny and engaging.

Girl in the Water (2016), Dana Marton. I took a chance and purchased (I know!) this book because of how much I liked Secret Soldier. The online reviews were enthusiastic, but I was not impressed. Marton tried to weave together three stories, and multiple points of view, and couldn't quite pull it off. spoilers ) I applaud her attempt to write something more ambitious than your run of the mill romance but this didn't work for me at all. I give it one star.

I returned Sugar and Other Stories (1987) by A.S. Byatt to the library after reading just one story. Actually, I didn't make it through the first story. I can't recall the title. It was about an unpleasant little girl, attending an atrocious boarding school, with nasty classmates and an appalling, sadistic headmistress, who I've decided in retrospect might be a stand-in for the writer. Byatt enjoys torturing her characters in much the same way that her headmistress character enjoyed torturing her students. Halfway through, I found I wasn't liking anything about this story. Enough was enough. I skimmed through the next two stories and they were more of the same. No, thank you.

What's next?

I borrowed another book in the time travel porn series from the LAPL. I think this one is called "The Slayer" but it has nothing to do with vampires.

I'm still rereading the series for my kidlit fic exchange, titles withheld.

I unearthed an old novel of Margaret Drabble's which I'd never read, The Peppered Moth.

I'm carrying around Mirror Dance from the Vorkosigan saga in my purse.

There's a stack of time travel novels from the library at my bedside.

Entering Space: Creating a Space-faring Civilization by Robert Zubrin is sitting around somewhere, too. I got it out of mothballs because there is a chapter on mining asteroids, which is relevant to my interests. Speaking of space-faring civilizations, season two of The Expanse arrived yesterday!

black kitty
thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
Available on Archive.org. The first issue, dated February 1951, contains the Ray Bradbury story The Firemen, which he would later publish as the book Fahrenheit 451. These are available to read online or as free downloads in epub, Mobi and other formats. They're not formatted well, but they're perfectly readable. From the web site: "Galaxy Science Fiction was an American digest-size science fiction magazine, published from 1950 to 1980."

https://archive.org/details/galaxymagazine

50 questions about books

Jul. 19th, 2017 09:13 am
thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
Thanks (and thanks a lot!) to [personal profile] stardreamer ;-)

1. You currently own more than 20 books:
When I was in primary school.

2. You currently own more than 50 books:
Before I graduated high school.

3. You currently own more than 100 books:
What a ridiculous question. There have been years that I've bought more than 100 books, though not recently

4. You amassed so many books you switched to an e-reader:
I didn't switch to an e-reader because of having so many books, but because of being a computer guy and wanting to investigate new tech. Started with a Palm Pilot, went to an iPad, went through a couple of Nooks along the way. Never messed with a Kindle because of a dislike of Amazon's control over the Whispernet.

5. You read so much you have a ton of books AND an e-reader:
Definitely. And now buying a vast majority in ebook format vs dead tree editions. But that's mainly because we're likely to be leaving the country in a few years and I DO NOT want to be shipping a proverbial, if not literal, ton of books if I can get rid of them. I have so many books that I loved when I was young, and treasure having read them, but have absolutely no interest in reading again.

There's a saying/story/whatever, it could actually be a Zen koan, about a person with a huge and impressive library. Someone asks the person if they've read all of those books. The reply is "Of course!" Or the reply is "Of course not!" Though my collection falls in to both camps, I think I want to be in the latter.

6. You have a book-organization system no one else understands:
Not really.

7. You're currently reading more than one book:
I frequently have multiple books in process, though sometimes books get started and never finished. I think the record holder is Don Quixote, I really should download a Gutenberg copy and add it to my phone.

8. You read every single day:
Most certainly.

9. You're reading a book right now, as you’re taking this book nerd quiz:
Simultaneously? Not hardly.

10. Your essentials for leaving the house:
This is not a simple question. If I'm doing errands locally that do not involve a sit-down meal, it's just me and my cell phone and perhaps a camera or two. If it involves going to the observatory or down the mountain to Alamogordo or further but not a long-distance trip, then add in more camera equipment, my iPad (always loaded with books), and maybe a book and my traveling game collection. A long-distance trip requires further analysis before packing is determined.

11. You've pulled an all-nighter reading a book:
I suppose, but very rarely and when I was much younger.

12. You did not regret it for a second and would do it again:
I probably did not regret it but also probably would not do it again at my age.

13. You've figured out how to incorporate books into your workout:
Like Star Dreamer said, workout?

14. You've declined invitations to social activities in order to stay home and read:
No. It is very rare that I would decline an invitation to a social activity.

15. You view vacation time as "catch up on reading" time:
No. I will always take books with me while traveling, but vacation is to have fun and photograph. When we went to Germany/Czechoslovakia in '15 I had LOTS of ebooks on both my iPad and my Chrome laptop, plus many more loaded in my Dropbox account as I knew I'd have lots of airplane time. But aside from hotel room time, I didn't spend a lot of time reading -- too much to see!

16. You've sat in a bathtub full of tepid water with prune-y skin because you were engrossed in a book:
Nope. If I'm in a tub, I'm soaking because of either sore muscles or sick lungs. I prefer showers. How my wife is willing to risk reading fanfic on a laptop in the tub is beyond me.

17. You've missed your stop on the bus or the train because you were engrossed in a book:
No.

18. You've almost tripped over a pothole, sat on a bench with wet paint, walked into a telephone pole, or narrowly avoided other calamities because you were engrossed in a book:
No, and people who don't pay attention to what they're doing and commit such acts should be publicly ridiculed.

19. You've laughed out loud in public while reading a book:
Certainly.

20. You've cried in public while reading a book (it’s okay, we won’t tell):
I don't think so, but possibly.

21. You're the one everyone goes to for book recommendations:
I have given recommendations before. The mother of a friend was a grade school teacher, and a student asked for some science fiction recommendations. Friend came to me. I made up a list, funneled it back, and later received a thank you note from the student!

22. You take your role in recommending books very seriously and worry about what books your friends would enjoy:
If asked, yes, I would take it seriously.

23. Once you recommend a book to a friend, you keep bugging them about it:
I wouldn't bug them, but I would ask them.

24. If your friend doesn't like the book you recommended, you're heartbroken:
I wouldn't be heartbroken, but I would be curious and would like to know so as to make a better recommendation. To each their own.

25. And you judge them.
Not hardly.

26. In fact, whenever you and a friend disagree about a book you secretly wonder what is wrong with them:
Not hardly.

27. You've vowed to convert a non-reader into a reader:
One year for my brother's birthday, I bought him a $25 book store gift card. He was heavily in to air brush and showed some talent. I thought he could get some magazines or a book on technique and learn some things. He doesn't read. He can read, he chooses not to. It went unused for ages, my mom finally gave it back to me and I got myself something. There's a line attributed to Mark Twain: The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.

28. And you've succeeded:
N/A.

29. You've attended book readings, launches, and signings: Yes.
Yep. Hillary Clinton, Walter Cronkite, Leslie Nielson, Sir Terry Pratchett, to name a few.

30. You own several signed books:
Yep. Hillary Clinton, Walter Cronkite, Leslie Nielson, Sir Terry Pratchett, to name a few.

31. You would recognize your favorite authors on the street:
Some of them. Some I would hope not to as they are deceased.

32. In fact, you have:
Nope.

33. If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, you'd choose your favorite writer:
Probably not.

34. You own a first-edition book:
Many.

35. You know what that is and why it matters to bibliophiles:
Yes.

36. You tweet, post, blog, or talk about books every day:
No. I talk about them often with my wife, but I wouldn't say daily.

37. You have a "favorite" literary prize:
No. I respect several, but I wouldn't call any a favorite.

38. And you read the winners of that prize every year:
Not really.

39. You've recorded every book you've ever read and what you thought of it:
I've started getting more consistent at doing that.

40. You have a designated reading nook in your home:
No. I wish I did, but I do not.

41. You have a literary-themed T-shirt, bag, tattoo, or item of home décor:
I have a few t-shirts. My favorite item is two USB flash drives that look like library card catalog drawers from the Unshelved Kickstarter drive.

42. You gave your pet a literary name:
Heh. Yeah, I'd say Dante is a literary name.

43. You make literary references and puns nobody else understands:
Oh, most certainly. And my wife has become a bit of a punner.

44. You're a stickler for spelling and grammar, even when you're just texting:
I do my best. My grammar is not perfect, but I do my best with spelling. Having a browser underline spelling errors certainly helps.

45. You've given books as gifts for every occasion:
For many occasions, yes. Every? No.

46. Whenever someone asks what your favorite book is, your brain goes into overdrive and you can't choose just one.
No. Too many different categories that have great books. Plus, tastes change. I loved Douglas Adams 30 years ago, now I view him as a one-trick pony who could have been so much more.

47. You love the smell of books:
Well, sorta. But not enough to prevent me from dumping most of my physical collection to clear space.

48. You've binge-read an entire series or an author's whole oeuvre in just a few days:
Definitely. But only for smaller series, say less than a dozen books. If I can't easily carry the entire series without a box, forget it. I've binged the Vorkosigan series, and very recently Elizabeth Moon's Vatta series in preparation for her (now released) new book.

49. You've actually felt your heart rate go up while reading an incredible book:
Certainly.

50. When you turn the last page of a good book, you feel as if you've finally come up for air and returned from a great adventure:
There have been books that I've read that were that good.

Of castles and bacon thieves

Jul. 19th, 2017 05:23 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
[personal profile] sabotabby
Today we were incredibly productive. We hiked up to High Castle, which technically is neither a castle nor very high, but I am still proud of us, dammit. It's quite a view. Some of the original castle remains, but it's not particularly impressive compared to the sight of all of Lviv.

there are cats and other things )
thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
You should take a look at your profile here. I was doing a little bit of editing on mine, and I noticed that my Interests did not come over! My LJ account is still active, so it was easy to copy, it annoyed me a bit nonetheless.

flight skills

Jul. 18th, 2017 11:39 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
[personal profile] darkoshi
Walking back from my lunch break, I passed a group of 7 crows cawing and flitting between trees.

Next, I came across a group of vultures standing together in a group on the grass. At first glance, they looked like black crows too. I tried not to look at them very directly, as doing so generally scares them away. But I got out my cell phone and took a furtive photo.



A few of the vultures flew upwards and bumped into the side of the building behind them before landing back on the ground. Huh? A couple more did the same thing, and I wondered what were they doing. Then I realized... they were all younglings, and were frightened of me and trying to fly up onto the top of the building. But their flying skills aren't good enough yet to fly straight up 20 feet like that. I walked away, not to scare them further, poor things.

It reminded me of a day last week when I walked right past a single young vulture that was sitting on a railing, not even noticing it until the last moment, as I had just walked out of the building into the sunshine.


A few days ago I was reading about vines... ah yes, to see if my mom was correct that letting them grow up the pine tree trunks can hurt the trees. While doing that, I found out the name of one of the vines that grows in my yard: Virginia Creeper. It has little suckers on its tendrils that helps it climb, and 5 leaflets in each compound leaf.

Earlier today while walking, I saw a similar looking plant with leaflets of 3... and remembered that rhyme, "leaves of three, let them be". I wondered if it was poison ivy. It looks so innocuous; I walk by it nearly every day. In lieu of touching the leaves to find out, I did a web search on my cell phone to find some images of poison ivy, and sure enough, that is what it was. Now I know what it looks like. For the moment, anyway.


Books Read 2017 - April - June

Jul. 18th, 2017 12:22 pm
thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
6/29 Too Like The Lightning, Ada Palmer (hf)
6/18 Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee (hf)
6/15 The Obelisk Gate, NK Jemisin (hf, abandoned)
6/14 All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (hf)
6/12 A Closed and Common Orbit, Becky Chambers (hf)
6/9 Guardian, Joe Haldeman

5/24 Through Five Administrations (ProjG), William Crook
5/20 In The Merde For Love (P), Clarke
5/16 Swords and Deviltry, Fritz Lieber
5/9 Master & Commander, Patrick O'Brian

4/28 Catch Me If You Can, Frank Abagnale
4/26 Alien Plot, Piers Anthony
4/26 Infinite Dreams, Joe Haldeman
4/22 To The Vanishing Point, Alan Dean Foster
4/17 Victory Conditions, Moon
4/16 Command Decision, Moon
4/13 Engaging the Enemy, Moon
4/11 Marque and Reprisal, Moon
4/8 Trading in Danger, Elizabeth Moon
4/6 A Year in the Merde, Stephen Clarke (p)
4/5 There Is No Darkness, Joe and Jack Haldeman

I've started doing some coding: (P) means physical copy, all others are ebooks. (ProjG) is from Project Gutenberg, and (HF) is Hugo Finalist. I only coded the novels even though I also read all of the novellas, novelettes, short stories, and Campbell nominees.

Like Movies, going from oldest to newest reads.

There Is No Darkness. Love me some Haldeman, and getting both brothers together is all the better. A novel set in a far space-flung future of a school traveling around, educating its student inhabitants. Quite a story, quite a commentary on culture.

A Year in the Merde is yet another Stephen Clarke comic French travelogue romance stories. They're lots of fun, lightweight reading. It's the first in the series about Paul West, a Brit marketing specialist who goes to Paris to consult in establishing a French chain of English tea rooms. It's a fish out of water series that's fun and weird, has a bit of a Pink Panther feel to it.

Elizabeth Moon's Vatta series: Trading in Danger, Marque and Reprisal, Engaging the Enemy, Command Decision, and Victory Conditions. Elizabeth Moon does an excellent job of writing space war. First off, she's an ex-Marine. She knows military training, procedure, and protocol. The books revolve around the Vatta family and their space shipping empire. Their daughter, Ky, is soon to graduate the space navy academy when a scandal gives her the choice: resign her commission and leave silently, or face a full courts martial an be stripped of her commission and thrown in the brig. She resigns. As she is a rated captain, her father gives her an old beater transport with a fairly simple task: take it on its final trade run then take it to the breakers and sell it for scrap. Buy tickets for the entire crew to come home. Of course, nothing can possibly be that simple. VERY bad things happen, enough to fill five books. I re-read them as Ms. Moon has released the sixth book of the series and I wanted to refamiliarize myself with the story, even though she insists that isn't strictly required. I'm very glad that I did as I had forgotten so much, and it is really an excellent series for the genre. Lots of character growth, lots of interesting space battles. She handles Newtonian motion in zero-G without getting bogged down in details like David Weber does in the Harrington books: some people like that, I tend to gloss over it. Anyway, definitely and enthusiastically recommended. The new book is Cold Welcome, it's book 1 of the Vatta's Peace series. She's on LJ at http://e-moon60.livejournal.com/ and her web site is at http://www.elizabethmoon.com/. She has a second space series known as the Serrano Legacy and an interesting magic/fantasy series known as Paksworld. Since I'm now finished with Hugo reading, I really should get ahold of Cold Welcome, though the new Charles Stross Laundry book should be arriving today....

To The Vanishing Point by Alan Dean Foster is one of his that I'd never heard of. An LA family has rented an RV and is driving to Las Vegas for vacation when they pick up a woman by the side of the road in the middle of the dessert. And their life changes forever! [cue ominous music] I've been a big Foster fan for a very long time, though I won't claim to have read everything he's written, nor do I try to, but this one is weird. The woman has one job in the world: to keep reality from unraveling. And now the family, through the act of picking her up, is part of that effort and has to see it through to the end. If they fail, reality falls in to chaos, perhaps forever. To be honest, this was not my cup of tea. It had interesting elements, but I just didn't care much for it.

Infinite Dreams, another Joe Haldeman. In this case, it is a collection of short stories. Lots of good stuff, too many to talk about specifics.

Alien Plot by Piers Anthony is another collection of short stories. I started reading Anthony ages ago: Xanth was a young series, I read the Bio of a Space Tyrant series, the Incarnations of Immortality series, the Blue Adept series, and I doubt I'll read anything else by him. I stopped reading him probably when he finished Incarnations of Immortality, I'd long-since stopped reading Xanth by then. And after reading Alien Plot: yeah, I think I'm done with him. My tastes have changed and there are a number of authors whom I really enjoyed when I was young that I just don't care for anymore.

Catch Me If You Can is Frank Abagnale's autobiography. He is an amazing person who evaded the FBI for years and has a Tom Hanks/Leo DiCaprio movie made about him of the same title detailing his exploits. He was an amazing hustler, an expert at acting like an airline pilot to cage free rides around the world, cashing bogus checks to fund his lifestyle. He figured out how to exploit weaknesses in the banking system, including how to make his own checks with magnetic ink to maximize the time it took to detect the forgery. Everything finally crashed down on him in France, where he spent several months in a horrible prison. He was released to be transferred to a Swedish prison for a year where he found out that he was about to be bounced from country to country where he'd committed fraud, unless a Swedish judge revoked his passport, in which case he'd be immediately flown to the USA to stand trial, and they wouldn't extradite him from there. When the plane came in for a landing at La Guardia, he exploited his knowledge of aircraft to go to the bathroom, remove the toilet from the floor, and escape. The service hatch frequently popped open on landing, triggering an idiot light in the cockpit, and it happened often enough that it was ignored. It wasn't looked in to until the plane had taxied to the terminal, at which point Frank had run across the airport and was long gone. I'd read this before and it is an amazing read. He never committed any violent crimes, just fraud. Highly recommended, and it'll probably put a smile on your face. Frank is now consulting to show businesses how to protect themselves against fraud and social engineering as he pretty much created that industry.

Master and Commander is the first book in the sea-faring series by Patrick O'Brian, which I had never touched until now. I quite enjoyed it, and now have a greater than zero understanding of nautical terms. Very good stuff, but I won't be pursuing the series very diligently. My wife has some of the Hornblower books, I might check in to those, and we'll see what my free/cheap ebook newsletters pop up.

Swords and Deviltry is the first Fafhred and the Grey Mouser book by Fritz Lieber. Classic sword and sorcery stuff, I devoured all of them when I was a teen and in my 20s. While it was fun to re-read this book, I have now re-read it and have no desire to re-read any more of them.

In The Merde For Love is the continuing adventures of Paul West in France by Stephen Clarke. Paul is now working on establishing his own tea shop in Paris, and trying to find love. Fun stuff, an interesting perspective of France and Paris.

Through Five Administrations by William Crook is a very unusual book. Crook was a Washington, DC policeman who was part of the protection detail for President Abraham Lincoln, he was not on duty the night that Lincoln was assassinated. This book is a memoir of his work in the White House of his work with Lincoln and the four subsequent administrations and their families. Quite an interesting perspective on the politics of the day, also an interesting alternative take on how English usage has changed over the last 150 years. And it's free online and for ebook readers through Project Gutenberg.

Guardian, another Joe Haldeman, is more fantasy than science fiction except that it deals in alternative universe theories of time/dimension travel. It starts right around the time of the Civil War and revolves around a woman and her son and their life that ultimately leads them to the Alaska Gold Rush. There's no hard, gadget-based, sci fi in this, so I lean towards classing it as fantasy with sci fi concepts. Very interesting stuff with some exploration of Alaskan myths. Haldeman lived there as a kid with his family for several years.

Now we get in to Hugo stuff!

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers is the second volume following A Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet, which I read in late December. I really like Becky Chambers' writing, I find her description of the general environment to be kind of evocative of Firefly and Douglas Adams. This book is loosely a continuation of the first, but only loosely. At the end of the previous book, a mature AI dies and is reset and can't really continue where she's at as it distresses everyone around her. So she's put in to a body that does a remarkable job of simulating a human and goes off to live with a junker/tech who can help her adapt. Every other chapter is back-story of the tech, which is an interesting story device. The whole book is huge amounts of character growth, which I really liked. It's all about the AI re-learning who she is/was and learning to be a better person and the junker reclaiming part of her past. Very fun stuff, and I'm quite looking forward to the next book. The first book was self-published and could have benefited from some editing rigor. This book shows much more polish. I really look forward to seeing what Ms. Chambers comes up with in the future, she's on my Will Buy list.

All The Birds In The Sky by Jane Anders is a mix of science fiction and fantasy. A young girl learns that, in certain circumstances, she can talk to birds and apparently she's a witch. A young boy, who's more or less a tech genius, learns that the girl can provide him an alibi with his parents to make it look like he's being active outdoors. Years past and lots of things happen, including the ecological collapse of the planet. It's a bit of a downer, but very well crafted and quite interesting: I really enjoyed reading this book and it well-deserved the Hugo nod.

The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemison is book 2 in a series and I was not impressed. And I hate to say it, but I abandoned this book. I didn't want to, but she did was I've learned is an increasingly common literary trope: second person writing. You do this, you do that, you look there, you say this. That really put me off. But that wasn't all, it was just the story itself that did it. The story was too dependent on the first book to understand the environment and what was going on. It just wasn't my cup of tea. Regarding second person, when I got to the short stories I was reading one that was published in Uncanny called If You Stay Here You Shall Surely Drown, and it is also written in second person. I didn't mind that. It was more the story than the perspective of the narration that put me off. Besides, a story will be in last place, and if I like other books more, it won't take much to be knocked to the bottom.

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee was, excuse the profanity, absolutely fucking amazing. Space war plus Chinese dynastic stuff plus Chinese mysticism. Wow. It wasn't strictly speaking magic, but nigh unto. The empire and its armies/fleets strategies and tactics are based on calendrical cycles and geometry. Sort of the ultimate expression of horoscopes and feng shui. Geometry will determine battle formations, and breaking an enemy's formation can determine victory. Lee does not get bogged down in the numbers, which I appreciate. The core of the story is an officer sent on a special expedition to suppress some calendrical heretics which threaten the stability of the empire. To overcome them, they must resurrect the greatest traitor the empire has ever scene, who is also the greatest general. His consciousness has been preserved even though his body was destroyed. And since she suggested it, she gets to host him. And the heretical rebellion turns out to be much more than it seems. This is the first book of a series or trilogy, I'm not sure which. And it is really, REALLY good. This was a page turner for me, I look forward to reading more of them.

Too Like The Lightning by Ada Palmer was another WOW book. Palmer is also up for a Campbell award for Best New Author, and I think she stands a solid shot at it. Solid future earth science fiction, but also very different. It's also very hard to describe. It has a feel of Cory Doctorow, in that countries are no more, people can now identify themselves in multiple ways as member of multiple groups. This determines voting blocks and elections for leadership. It's kind of complicated. For example, one group controls all air car routing, another controls everything concerning space travel and anything outside of earth's atmosphere. Another with law enforcement between major clans. There is no longer such a thing as capital punishment. If someone commits murder, or even multiple murders, they're stripped of all affiliations and sentenced to manual labor as a Servitor for anyone who will have them. The people who have them working for them give them food for their labor: if they don't work, they don't eat. It's more complicated than that, but like I said, it's hard to describe and it takes a long time for it to be fully explained in the book. The plot of the book is a theft takes place. Each of the major clans publishes a list of their projection of what the vote results will be in the next leadership election. Very important stuff. The theft is from one of the most respected papers. There's no blackmail, no murder, just stealing a piece of paper. But it sends ripples throughout the world of the ruling elite. And as the book progresses, it turns more and more sordid. Very much looking forward to future books in the series.

Simply put, Too Like The Lightning and Ninefox Gambit are the two best books that I've read this year, and the year's just half over. Absolutely amazing. It makes me kick myself repeatedly that I haven't bought supporting memberships for Worldcon in the past, but I'll definitely get them in the future! Just too much good stuff, and too many authors to look forward to!
thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
News Thump is a very British parody site, not unlike The Onion. They do some very good work. I read them frequently, they do an excellent job of ripping Trump.

http://newsthump.com/2017/07/17/george-a-romero-probably-dead/


I'm reminded of a story of Vincent Price and Peter Lorre attending the funeral of Bella Lugosi, allegedly true: Peter turned to Vincent and whispered "Should we drive a stake through his heart, just to make sure?"

In Lviv

Jul. 18th, 2017 07:13 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
[personal profile] sabotabby
This is a gorgeous city, maybe even more than Kiev. It's also very much a City Of Coffee, and I highly approve. There's a café where, if you go into the basement, you can "mine" for coffee in the walls, but besides that, when we asked the hotel guy where to get good coffee, he looked at us weirdly and said, "it's ALL good coffee." A random selection would suggest he's right.

We did a walking tour, saw various churches, the Catholic Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, all of which seem very close together by contemporary standards. Lviv has changed hands over its history, and the references to Galicia made me do a Google and feel like an idiot because Lviv was in the heart of what had been Galicia, and that's where my grandfather was from.

Anyway, here is the new friend we made:



more pictures )

INTERVIEW: Author E. M. Hamill

Jul. 18th, 2017 09:34 am
ahunter3: (Default)
[personal profile] ahunter3
Hi, E. M. Hamill!


YOUR BOOK

* What factors led you to feature a genderqueer main character?  Do
you draw on personal experience (whether your own or other folks in
your life), or were you more intrigued by the concept of being
genderqueer?


I’ve been bisexual all my life, though I’m not genderfluid like Dalí is. It’s something I never had the courage to express when I was younger for a variety of reasons, and then it felt like it was too late. Now that I’m older, wiser, and one of my children has also come out as non-binary, I am finally comfortable expressing this part of myself. Especially after the last election, I felt compelled to speak out at last and be counted with all my brothers and sisters. It’s never too late.


Even though my main character, Dalí, has been shattered by loss, I wanted them to be a person who revels in the fact they are attracted to all genders, and doesn’t hide who they are. They accept this part of themselves without shame, as they should. It was kind of cathartic.



* Are there other gender-bending science fiction novels or
gender-variant characters in science fiction that inspire you or that
you're particularly fond of?



The show “Earth: Final Conflict” fascinated me. The aliens in the show, especially Da’an, were genderless, and I loved that.  Of course, Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who, that most omnisexual of beings in the universe! Who doesn’t love him? One that doesn’t get a lot of notice is Inara from Firefly, who was decidedly bisexual. Lastly, most recently, “Sense8” and it’s diverse array of queer relationships and actors spoke to me on a huge level.


* Some science fiction operates as a sort of "intellectual
laboratory" to play out "what if" scenarios, and some is more of a
vacation fantasy, creating a fascinating different world to put
characters into, and so on.  Is there a 'tradition' or sub-genre of
science fiction that your book is a part of?



I would call it a space opera in the vein of Star Trek or Star Wars, with deliberate allegories to modern day social and human rights issues. Aliens and humans work alongside each other, and deep friendships or relationships develop as a result. 


* Is this a stand-alone book or are you working on a series?


This can be read as a stand-alone, but I definitely left the door open for more books featuring this character. I’ve already started writing their next mission.


* What sort of audience do you anticipate for DALI?  When you were
writing it, did you have an audience in your mind that you were
writing for?



I hope it appeals to all readers of science fiction, but especially to fellow queer readers. I also hope it resonates with mainstream sci-fi fans, because fiction opens doors to new ways of thinking.


* If you could inhabit the world in which your story takes place,
would you do so for a weekend, a year or two, or the rest of your
life, or would you pass on that option entirely?


Oh, a year or two, because you can’t get from our solar system to Zereid quickly!

* Did you have the idea for DALI floating around in your mind for a
long time before you wrote it, or did you write it more or less as it
first came to you?


Once Dalí started talking, they didn’t stop. I finished the first draft in six months, which is really fast for me!

* Aside from the science fiction element of it, you describe the book
as an "adventure"; is it a suspenseful action-thriller, or a big
drama with large social forces squaring off, a personal odyssey with
a central heroic figure... how would you characterize the plot?



I would characterize it as a suspenseful action-thriller, or spy drama. There are elements of a personal odyssey as well.


* How long did it take you?  If you've written and published
previously, how did this one compare to the others in terms of the
ease and speed with which you wrote it?


My first book took me five years from start to finish, but only two after I got serious about it. The second book in that series was easier. Dalí took six months to write, six months to edit, and I signed a contract with Nine Star Press in early 2017. 


WRITING


* What's your favorite environment to write in?  Do you have a studio
or do you just work in any convenient place?


I have a big recliner in front of my picture window. I get up before everybody else does, because it takes silence and solitude to get me in the zone. I have a small writing space carved out in our utility room, but it’s less comfortable! It’s the place I go when everybody else is awake.

* Do you do a lot of formal planning, with notes and databases or
spreadsheets and research, or do you work more spontaneously and
impose any additional needed order later on?


Nope. Total pantser. I love that improvisational writing mode. I start with an idea or a single scene that’s been in my head, and run. I break a cardinal rule by doing some heavy editing as I write, and also afterwards. 

* What's your main writing tool?  Do you write using a standard word
processor, a dedicated book-authoring software package, a fountain
pen and a ream of parchment, dictate your tale into Siri, or
something else?  What do you like about your preferred tool?



My trusty MacBook Air. It goes with me when I’m waiting to pick up kids from extracurricular stuff, in doctor’s waiting rooms, on long car trips…it’s an extension of my consciousness by now! Tool wise, I love AutoCrit software. Best investment I ever made. 


* Do you keep the contents of your book private until you like the
form it has taken, or do you like to solicit early feedback from beta
readers and friends?



As soon as I have the first draft out of my head, I run it by my alphas to see if it sucks or not! My betas don’t get to see it until the later drafts. I have the best critique partners ever.  You can’t have them; they’re mine.


* Do you write in 3rd person past tense omniscient, 1st person
present tense, or some other combo of perspective and grammatical
tense?  How does this affect the ways in which you include the
thinking of your main character and, if relevant, the internal
thinking of other characters in your stories?  Is this something
you're consistent about or have you (for example) written some
stories as an omniscient narrator and some from a 1st person
narrator's vantage point?



I write in both. My first three novels are third person past/omniscient, but Dalí was my first person/past tense debut, other than a few short stories. I’m not a huge fan of present tense as a writer or a reader, with one notable exception: The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.


* Who were and are your favorite authors?  Have they generally been
writers who write in the same genres that you write in?


Guy Gavriel Kay, Ursula LeGuin, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Madeleine L’Engle, David Brin, Piers Anthony, Gregory McGuire, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robert Heinlein, Stephen King, Robert McCammon, JRR Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander…I could go on way too long!  I write sci-fi and fantasy of all flavors, so they’ve all influenced me in different ways. I am a lifelong, voracious reader. I make occasional forays into paranormal and historical romance, with a few well-loved literary fiction books.

* What has been the most useful feedback you've ever received about
your writing?


Every bit of feedback I receive is useful. This is why I value my editors and CP’s above all. Most recently, it was to pay attention to body parts, especially eyes, wandering off to do their own thing…LOL

* Have you ever tried cowriting or being part of a collaborative
writing experience?  Is that something you would recommend, or
recommend against?



I haven’t yet. I’ve only heard horror stories, but there’s proof out there that it can work with the right partnership.


E. M. Hamill: NineStar Press hosted author page, primary website

DALÍ will be available in print and in e-book format from Amazon.



————————

I am now echoed on DreamWidth, like many other LJ folks. My DW acct is here. Please friend/link me on DW if you are a DreamWidth user.

————————

Index of all Blog Posts

Police truck

Jul. 18th, 2017 09:48 am
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[personal profile] matrixmann
"Which one of your oaths is the one more important to you?"
"Of course that oath to protect civil life from harm!"
"Then why don't you rebel against your superior when he just orders you to harm the people you swore to protect?!"

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